Title: The Future Of USAF Airborne Warning & Control: A Conceptual Approach

Subject: This conceptual approach examines the evolution of the USAF airborne and warning system as a process which includes present doctrinal tenants and past role application, as well as future concepts.

Author(s): Thomas W Nine; Michael Hagen (Faculty Advisor)


Abstract: Several conceptual approaches for next generation air surveillance and control platforms are: (1) space-based radar systems, (2) radar unmanned aerial vehicles, (3) traditional manned AWACS/JSTARS-like platforms, and (4) increased sensor capabilities on individual tactical (fighter) assets, such as internal 360 degree-coverage radars. The present focus of related literature seems to be technological advantage/cost, rather than role enhancement and system survivability as they apply to the future threat. This paper focuses on the evolving role and capabilities of the USAF airborne warning and control platform in the past, and the role and projected upgrades in capabilities of the platform in the near future (including joint and international capability comparisons). Last, it presents several next-generation conceptual platforms, and some of their core strengths and weaknesses-including potential survivability problems. Based upon this discussion, the author proposes that the combination of at least two platforms, one at the strategic and the other at the operational/tactical will best ensure redundancy, survivability, and synergy to meet air surveillance and control requirements into the next century.

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Last updated 1999 Nov 17